The Herald Sun reports today that Ian Thorpe, 27, is considering a surprise comeback in time for London 2012.
It's understood Thorpe, 27, discussed his plans with Australia's current batch of crack male sprinters - Eamon Sullivan, Andrew Lauterstein, Ashley Callus and Matt Targett - at the Commonwealth Games trials in Sydney last month, allegedly saying: "Let's get the 4x100 in London."
I say this happens... Just three days ago at a sports convention in Dubai Thorpe revealed “I’ve walked away, not retired”. Thorpedo is media-savvy enough to know how this will have been taken and to have the story break so soon afterwards tells me that we'll get the welcome return of this century's first global swimming star.
Assuming it does happen, several questions remain:-
A) Will he get back into the kind of shape he needs to be to make the Australian team?
- Look at Geoff Huegill. Thorpe might not even be the biggest surprise comeback Olympian on the 2012 team.
B) Will he focus only on the 4 x 100 Free relay?
- If Thorpe can get down to a mid-48 on the 100 Free (what it will probably take to qualify comfortably for the Aussie team) then I'm guessing he could also swim a pretty mean 200m Free. You can add the 4 x 200 Free relay to his list. When it comes to individual events I think Thorpe needs to be in with a real shot at a medal (probably Gold) for him to consider it. The individual 200m Free would probably be the most suitable event for him and as a result his participation might depend on what Phelps/Biedermann/Agnel/Isotov etc. are producing. The endurance needed for the 400m Free might be a step too far even for Thorpe. I don't see him being able to match Cielo/Bernard/Sullivan for speed in the individual 100 Free.
C) Will Thorpe's presence be enough to win Gold for Australia in the 4 x 100 Free relay in 2012?
- It will certainly give the team a boost and should help Australia but it still might not be enough to claim gold.
France have to be considered favourites with the USA a close second. So far this year the fastest 4 French 100m Freestylers are:-
A Bernard - 48.32 (World Rank 1)
F Gilot - 48.52 (W.r. =2)
W Meynard - 48.79 (W.r 5)
Y Agnel - 48.99 (W.r 8)
This doesn't even include the seriously talented A Leveaux, F Bousquet, B Steimetz and G Mallet.
Australia's top 4 in comparison:-
E Sullivan - 48.52 (W.r =2)
T D'Orsagna - 49.35 (W.r 18)
J Magnussen - 49.43 (W.r 19)
K Richardson- 49.47 (W.r 25)
The US team will always challenge and have a wealth of talent available. (Phelps, Adrian, Walters, Grevers, Weber-Gale, Jones, new guys coming through... Lezak!)
D) If Thorpe does comeback, is it the best news in 2010 for the sport of swimming?